August 2nd, 2016

The current political campaign media rhetoric, particularly by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, has raised an interesting question:  “Is he killing traditional media training?”

My very strong answer:  “No!!”

Yes, like most media trainers, I have listened in utter amazement to many of Trump’s statements and was often stunned.  When he declared in July of last year that former POW John McCain was not a hero and “I like people who were not captured,” I confidently told a colleague Trump’s campaign could turn the lights off.  He was dead in the water.


The ridiculous statement tarnishing a war hero and a flurry of others has not seemed to diminish his popularity one iota.  Even though Trump is a human gaffe machine he never apologizes.  He is like General Sherman destroying everything in his path.  He became the party’s nominee by systematically crushing 16 formidable opponents while generating record ratings.

Does that mean Bottom Line Communications and other media training businesses should now start offering “Effective Trump Media Training Techniques” to clients?  Not yet.

Rather than ditch proven and successful media training guidelines  (how to dress, bridge, never lie, work with the media, develop key points, etc.) we feel Donald Trump’s way of dealing with the media is truly unique.  His outsized New York personality and take-no-prisoners approach is effective because it makes for good media interviews.

Trump is keenly aware that when a TV network (or newspaper, radio outlet, social media, etc.) interviews him it provides them with a ratings bonanza.  As more and more media outlets today try to generate more revenues, he literally is gold to them. It is a symbiotic relationship.

It is a symbiotic relationship. He is despised by most of the media, but they breathlessly cover his every move.  It’s like an employee who despises his boss, but needs the job for a paycheck.

“Overall this primary season, debates with The Donald have averaged 17.3 million total viewers,” noted The Wrap. “Without Trump, the events have brought in just 6 million total viewers, on average.”  In other words, Trump generates millions of dollars in ad revenues for the networks.012816-Trump-Debates

The news media of today is big business. As a businessman, Trump knows the media needs him as much as he needs them.  He doesn’t need to beg for exposure.  He also knows the public’s trust in the news media is at an all-time low and exploits it.  While Hillary Clinton is spending millions of dollars on advertising, Trump is able to get most of his exposure for free while often insulting reporters.

“We have a media that is so dishonest. These are among the most dishonest people you will ever, ever meet,” Trump said in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. “We are going to punch through the media. We have to.”

That quote was in the New York Post,which did not help its case for quality journalism by printing nude modeling photos from 1995 of Trump’s wife, Melania, a day earlier. It’s a mutual exploitation: the Post wants increased readership by running nude pics and Trump wants publicity by calling out the Post and others for lousy journalism.

In summary, traditional media training techniques are just as effective today as ever.  They help level the playing field between an individual and the news media and enables you to get your key points across effectively.   If you do a media interview without training and planning you are likely entering a gunfight with a knife.

None of us are Donald Trump.  He is truly an outlier in dealing with the media.

His tactics may work for him, but would likely be disastrous for anyone else.

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    It has been called “appalling journalism.”

    That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light.

    Long-time NBC Today Show star and anchor at all three major networks, Katie Couric, now with Yahoo! News, is being severely criticized for highly questionable editing in her documentary titled “Under the Gun” after it was revealed an eight-second pause was inserted to make it look as if the people interviewed could not answer her question (LINK).

    Luckily for the individuals being interviewed, one person was wise enough to record the Q&A (LINK TO AUDIO). Otherwise, questioning the bubbly media icon would have been virtually impossible and fruitless.

    Couric was executive producer, host and narrator of the piece.  Anti-gun activist Stephanie Soechtig produced and directed it.

    In the documentary, a group of Virginia gun owners was asked by Couric: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”

    Not only did Couric/Soechtig insert a pause (8-10 seconds), but they also inserted “B” roll of the gun owners taken before the interview even began.  There is little doubt the editing was clearly designed to make it look as if Couric’s tough question made them speechless and uncomfortable.

    Couric is now calling the edit an “unnecessary mistake,” according to an individual with knowledge of her thinking (LINK).

    In an official statement, Soechtig countered, “my intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”

    Couric now says she supports Soechtig’s statement “and am very proud of the film.” However, a few days later she admitted she regretted how she portrayed gun activists (LINK).

    However, the National Review and Washington Post now say Couric should be fired over the deliberate misrepresentation (LINK).

    This is a classic reason why at Bottom Line Communications we strongly advise clients to always record media interviews.  Without actual audio evidence (below) the Yahoo! crew would have denied inserting the pause.

    However, with the evidence journalism takes another huge credibility hit.


    Published May 29, 2016 at 8:30 am - 2 Comments It has been called “appalling journalism.” That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light. Long-time NBC Today Show star and ...


    In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious.

    When rankings for the best “J” schools in the nation are posted the University of Missouri is almost guaranteed to be in the Top 10 or Top 5.  However, that may have all changed due to the actions of a single media professor during the recent student uprising at the school.

    A Mass Media Professor, Melissa Click, is shown in a video asking for “muscle” to remove a student photojournalist, Tim Tai,  who was working for ESPN and in a public place.   It is a horrible act by a college professor and shows a total disregard for the Journalist’s First Amendment rights, which is against what the school has taught for decades.

    “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here,” says Click.

    A video of Click’s actions against Tai has gone viral and has well over 500,000 views (LINK) on a single site.  The New York Times has written an extensive story about her actions.

    What was once a sympathetic media for the protesters has now changed with the actions of students and faculty against them.

    Technically some have pointed out Click works in the Mass Media Division of the Department of Communications in College of Arts & Sciences, which is separate from the J-school.  However, she is listed on the School of Journalism’s site (LINK), which tars the entire Journalism program whether it deserves it or not.

    Click had earlier Tweeted out that she she was looking for coverage of the event by Journalists.  Later on she is clearly leading the charge against other Journalists with total disregard for their rights to cover the event.

    With the resignation of the school’s President and Chancellor the University of Missouri is clearly being painted as a college where the inmates are running the asylum.   Rather than act like a Professor, Click and other faculty members have clearly shown they were behind the student protests against the administration.

    If the University of Missouri doesn’t hire a crisis communications team immediately its entire image for producing quality Journalism graduates could likely be tarnished forever. If the school was wise it already had a crisis communications plan in place for such an incident, but that is unlikely.

    The first move would be to remove Click. But that would be a stop-gap measure since a faculty member helping foment the disturbance was an indictment on all the faculty.  The school hired her, and whether tacitly or not, approved of her actions.

    A statement issued today by the Dean of the Journalism School denied she was part of the faculty and sounded as if her days as a professor at Missouri were numbered. Click has also been forced to apologize in an attempt to save her job and resigned her “courtesy” appointment to the J-School.

    However, a Kansas City reporter told BLC that the protesters are refusing to speak with local reporters and will only do interviews with national media outlets.  That is the kind of move that will turn sympathetic local media against them now and in the future.

    It’s a bad move.



    Published November 10, 2015 at 10:23 am - 5 Comments In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious. When rankings for the best ...